If Our Pets Could Talk
By Jackie Kellum
June is warm-weather time, and there are two major things you need to focus on in the care of your pets. First, provide full-time access to fresh water so he does not get dehydrated and over-heated. Second, be aware of fleas and ticks.
You should check your dog regularly for ticks and fleas. Ticks usually lurk between toes, inside the ears, “armpit” area, and around the neck. If you do find a tick attached to your dog, remove it immediately and carefully, making sure to get all parts of the tick’s body from the skin. The simplist way to remove it is using a tweezer, placing it as close to the skin as possible, pulling upwards with a steady, continous motion. Do not twist or jerk it as it may not remove the whole tick intact. Flush the ticks down the toilet.
Fleas are like vampires; adult fleas feed only on blood. The flea spends the majority of its life off the host animal, except when it needs a “transfusion.” The female lays her eggs in the home environment, including your pet’s bedding. It takes only about a week for the eggs to hatch. One pair of adult fleas can cause three stages of offspring—egg, larva, and adult—to be present in your home for almost two years! Controlling the environment involves thorough cleaning and washing your pet’s bedding and tumbling the wet bedding in a hot dryer.
Fleas congregate, usually around the neck in cats, and on the lower back and belly in dogs. If no fleas are visible but the animal is scratching, inspect carefully around the base of the tail. If you find small black particles embedded in your pet’s hair, place a few of them on a damp paper towel, or put a damp paper towel on the tail area. If the paper turns red, that’s flea feces. You’ve got fleas!
A “natural” homeopathic control route may include herbal sprays, shampoos, and flea collars whose odors repel fleas, but do not kill fleas. There are many herbal pet shampoos available incorporating essential oils of eucalyptus, citronella, rosemary and wormwood, pennyroyal, or other flea repellant oils. There are commercial anti-flea products that come in a liquid form as a monthly back-of-the-neck application, or oral tablets that slow release over a few months’ time. There are some very basic and important things to keep in mind when using such products; their purpose is to kill parasites by “poisoning” them. This occurs by the product’s absorption into the animal’s system, including vital organs like the liver. Discuss with your vet what flea/tick control product is best for your pet.
Products like K-9 Advantix monthly application and Bravo flea spray are to be used only on dogs. They are highly toxic to cats. There are no anti-flea products intended to be used on kittens or puppies eight weeks of age or younger. Doing so can cause deadly results! If they are young, give them a bath, using Dawn dish detergent, leaving a thick lather on your pet for 10-15 minutes to “drown” the fleas. Be careful not to let small puppies or kittens become chilled or overheated, and don’t bathe them more than once weekly.
A quick reminder: make sure you dog has an ID on its collar at all times, so if he gets out he can get back to you more quickly. The tag should include his or her name and your current phone number. It is also advantageous to have “Recompensa/Reward” on the tag, also.